Wednesday, March 31, 2010


It's the small things, really.

I'm not really into collecting things, but when I landed at the Salvation Army's bric-a-brac sale last Friday I saw in myself the kind of hoarder they make reality TV shows about. My purpose there was simple: to drop off a load of stuff I didn't need anymore, as part of an apartment cleanse. Holey shirts, flattened slippers, a diner-style napkin holder that belonged, well, in a diner. Too much accumulates too fast and it's only up to ourselves to keep the situation in check. I knew it would feel amazing to leave that old Whole Foods paper bag full of unneeded goods at the counter. I didn't know it would feel so good that I couldn't leave.

Sarah was with me, did I mention that? First we looked at desks. Then bookshelves. I played a couple out-of-tune notes on a piano. And slowly we made our way over to the baker's racks, full of kitchen-y things. Suddenly I needed a Provencal (-style) pitcher that said 'juice' on it. I need that votive handle holder too. Sarah needed a canister to hold wooden spoons, spatulas and tongs. There it was -- in butter yellow. We did well at the bric-a-brac sale!

I knew I had to stop, however, when I dreamed to covet the small set of wine glasses. I saw in them Cognac. I saw in them clinking together in celebration. I saw in them heirlooms to pass down from one generation to the next. I saw in them going to the clutter cabinet. OK, time to move on! I was happy enough with my 2 bric-a-brac finds.

For one second, as I forked up my $2 at the register, I thought: great. I'm here to remove items from my apartment, not replace them with more. But then, I got over that real quick. My pitcher is now a vase for a beautiful bunch of Ranunculus: a vignette that brightens my day. My votive holder is the perfect fit for the little candle that needed a home, now by my desk.

I said: it's the small things, really. Not in size, but in effort. Low-maintenance items that earn their meaning and value through the experience of unexpectedly finding them. One random day that is no longer random, in my eyes. These little gems spoke to me, were each half-off a dollar, and they have their place, purpose and prettiness. What else can you say that about? Maybe one day they'll find themselves back at the Salvation Army. But today they're taking up residence with me, in good company with my other things.